Highlights – media briefing 10 November

We’ve just finished the first media briefing in the Press Centre at ESOC.

Media briefing at ESOC 10 Nov Credit: BBC/J. Amos

Media briefing at ESOC 10 Nov Credit: BBC/J. Amos

We just finished today’s 15:00CET media briefing in the Press Centre at ESOC. The briefing was given by Flight Director Andrea Accomazzo, Rosetta Spacecraft Operations Manager Sylvain Lodiot, Project Scientist Matt Taylor, all from ESA, and DLR’s Stephan Ulamec, project manager for Philae. Here is a summary:

  • The Rosetta spacecraft and Philae lander are in great shape
  • The commands to control the Philae lander are already uploaded
  • Today, the mission operations team at ESOC including the flight dynamics specialists are planning the spacecraft activities for tomorrow, and these will be translated into on-board commands and uploaded overnight
  • The timing for the Wednesday morning burn (now set for 07:35-08:35CET) is known to only about 30 minutes right now (see the landing timeline)
  • A final pre-delivery orbit determination will be done by teams tomorrow, and then we will know when final the pre-delivery burn will take place
  • For the Orbiter & Lander mission teams, there are a series of GO/NOGO decision points between tomorrow night & separation on Wednesday, now set for 10:03CET
  • The Lander will be switched on this evening and the control team will start warming it up and getting ready
  • Matt Taylor explained:
    — This week marks an ‘epoch in the mission’; once we’re past landing, we start full-on science; we’re all ‘GO’
    — Answering a query on surface texture: We know a bit more than we did before. It’s a bit warmer than we initially thought; we’re analysing data from several instruments; it’s a more dusty surface material somewhere between hard-packed snow and cigarette ash; there are variations, but we’re seeing this across the planned landing site.
  • When asked how we know we’ve landed, S. Ulamec explained: We see telemetry signals telling us we’ve touched the surface and that the harpoons have fired. He adds that it will take ‘several minutes’ to analyse the lander telemetry to confirm landing. One possible problem could be that Philae has landed, but that the harpoons have not anchored; that’s why we need to look carefully at the telemetry.
  • When asked if we’ve seen any comet activity that may affect landing plans, S. Ulamec explained: If we see the comet break up, then we have a NOGO 🙂 Seriously, we’ve seen no new activity affecting plans for landing.
  • The first science sequence lasts about 2.5 days (depending on battery life). If solar power recharges the batteries, we go into long-term surface science

In summary, everything is in great shape and we are counting down to an exciting and crucial delivery day.

A timeline of the science operations that Rosetta’s lander Philae will perform during the first 2.5 days on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Credit: ESA

A timeline of the science operations that Rosetta’s lander Philae will perform during the first 2.5 days on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Credit: ESA



  • Is a recording of this briefing available – and what about the one Tuesday at 11:00 CET: is it being streamed/archived?

  • Robin Sherman says:

    Is a replay of this event available to watch please? I have checked the usual places on the ESA.int site, so far without luck.

  • Cometstalker says:

    “We know a bit more than we did before, it’s a more dusty surface material somewhere between hard-packed snow and cigarette ash.”

    Quite a bit of Humor in this note, hard packed snow is almost ice and a car can run over it hardly leaving a trace while cigarette ashes are so fragile that it just barely can cary a fly. I suppose this conclusion is due to the observation of the high resolution Osiris pictures that we never saw.
    In this perspective I’m glad they where not presented to the audience, i would not dare to speculate what the bloggers would have thought of it,,,,,

  • simon frederik says:

    Hopefully the landing will be a great success !
    But I am afraid the impact of landing (even when Philae lands on a relative soft base) will be too harsh for Philae to survive its hardware , structure and collapsing strength (the inclination-crack when Philae will not land on its 3 feet at the same time).
    Therefore , ESA , is a program of a softer landing-speed i.e. less vertical speed to approach the comet not advisable ?

    • steve says:

      The gravity is so low, if a man were there and he jumped, he would not return to the surface.

  • Cometstalker says:

    To keep up the dynamic range i say that the 67p/c-g is some where between a heap of snow and a pile of gravel.

  • Sovereign Slave says:

    Mission summary is greatly appreciated, thanks so much! I’d also like to say great job, your hard work and dedication are much appreciated, and it’s obvious that everyone following this blog is incredibly excited about Philae’s upcoming launch, myself included. Oh, and thanks for posting all our comments – good, bad, and ugly.

    Now, two questions.

    One, in the hangout the other day, Matt mentioned that there were several kilos per second of water sublimating from the comet currently, and that this will increase to hundreds of kilos per second as the comet approaches perihelion. In an earlier post, I did a very rough reckoning that this would translate to at least 500,000,000 gallons (I converted to gallons) of sublimated ice during its trip around the sun, and most likely much much more than this. My question is, does this seem more or less accurate? Or, better yet could you estimate P67’s total water loss during its complete journey more accurately and let us know? What percentage would this volume loss of ice be related to the overall volume of the comet? You know you’ll be too busy to get any sleep the next few days anyway, so hop hop.

    Two (general question for everyone). I find it curious that in all the discussions that have so far been posted on this blog, there is an absolutely glaring lack of accepted standard model constructs to help explain P67 (besides its got ice).

    For instance, there’s been surprise expressed by the Rosetta team about the comet’s shape, color, lack of surface ice, etc, and now apparently its current surface temperature, which is higher than expected. Yet not ONE scientist or blog comment that I know of has suggested that perhaps black matter or black energy (or any other array of currently accepted theoretic standard model constructs) has interacted or is currently interacting with the comet in such a way as to produce these surprising features, or gone into detail about exactly how these constructs may have shaped and influenced the comet. I mean, could the higher temperature than expected on the comet’s surface be the result of energy interacting with black energy? Or its shape or color the result of interaction with black matter? It seems that if black energy and/or black matter make up the vast majority of everything in the universe, there should be some kind of evidence right here in our own solar system of it, and that they should be influencing and obviously impacting our everyday world. And maybe their proof is sitting right here in front of us as it whizzes toward the sun.

    Yet these considerations seem to be totally absent when discussing the oddities and current unexplainables in P67. Why is this I wonder? It’s almost like all those great imagined theoretic constructs that standard model assigns to phenomena in the universe are great when they’re far away and beyond close examination, close observation, and experimentation, but as soon as there’s something right here in front of us, something “real world” to be thoroughly and scientifically evaluated with an array of accurate instruments, not a peep is heard in reference to these exotic theories explaining anything about it.

    I’m just sort of tossing it out there. But, I’ve got the sneaking suspicion that, at least subconsciously, everyone kind of knows this kind of ivory tower stuff comes with a very high BS signature.

    • Karsten Seiferlin says:

      Why would anyone convert liters into gallons? Anyway, it is expected that comets, and in particular short period comets like C-G will loose matter in the order of a meter or so per orbit.
      Concenring the dark energy and dark matter question: why would this comet be influenced by dark whatsoever while the Earth, the moon, Mars, Jupter, the asteroids etc. are apparently not? In science there is a principle called “occam’s razor” which says that, should several hypothesis explain an observation, usually the simplest one is correct. The “unexpectedly” high temperatures are in fact not so unexpected. There are several comet models published- many of them years ago – that predict and explain these temperatures. There have also been experiments with artificial comet-like samples irradiated in vacuum that showed a similar behaviour: a dry,dark and fragile dust layer forms on top of the ice and thermally insulates the underlying ice. This dust layer can get quite warm. No obscure dark matter or energy needed.

      • Sovereign Slave says:

        Agreed, liters perfectly logical, unlike gallons, but lifetime references die hard.
        An equivalent of a meter of surface material? Not sure I understand what you’re saying, and wouldn’t it depend on the size of the comet?

        Referring to dark fill-in-the-blanks and other exotic highly speculative theories, I believe you actually illustrate my point quite nicely – these theoretical constructs based on a whole series of assumptions certainly are not apparent anywhere locally in our solar system (even though some say they constitute up to 97% of the universe, so what are the odds that they aren’t present in our own solar systems?), and it’s obvious that no one gave these imaginary constructs the least consideration in the applied science of the Rosetta mission. I doubt if they ever make it past occam’s razor, but as you say, they are quite “obscure.”

        Regarding the high surface temperatures and other surprises, I’m just pointing out what the Rosetta scientists themselves have said. I guess they’re not familiar with the studies and experiments you refer to. I do wonder what the reaction will be if P67 is found to be basically solid rock, which based on appearances at least, seems likely as it’s obviously not just a light layer of dust that covers it, but towering rock faces and boulders as well.

        Regardless, should know more very soon.

      • logan says:

        Does this have a name? Given various theories for comet dynamics, go for the one requiring less energy.

    • steve says:

      Advanced theories of physics, are just that. This is a icy rock tumbling around the sun. Newton has this one nailed.

  • Wout zweers says:

    Lot’s of good dark coffee coming two days and hopefully champagne wednesday. You deserve it! We keep our fingers crossed and the coffee fresh coming two days

    Good luck!

  • John Smith says:

    The silence from planet ESA on the issue of streaming and archiving of briefings is worrisome. The ESA TV schedule listed the 10.11 briefing for coverage, but nothing has appeared – live or recorded. Will 11.11 (also on the ESA TV schedule) be the same? What coverage can we rely on ? NASA?

  • Berry Keizer says:

    This image is not OK. The lower part does not show correctly (only coloured broad lines)

  • Berry Keizer says:

    I meant the “High-Resolution”-picture you get when clicking on the above figure ‘Philae’s first science sequence’.

  • Karsten Seiferlin says:

    Philae is built for the expected landing speed, which is not so high at all. It is also built to withstand the touch-down on a hard surface. Think of the landing as a docking manouvre where the challenge is less not be be damaged but more to stay in place and not re-bounce. For that, Philae has a down-pushing (!) thruster, two anchoring harpoons and screws in the three feet.

Comments are closed.